May the 4th be with you

Monday is the start of a new week and often the time when everyone says “I’ll make a change.” Not me. I started my health and fitness journey on a Friday last year. If I mess up in my nutrition, I don’t wait for the next Monday to roll around because otherwise I’ll find ways to make more excuses. If I fall, I try to get back up right away. So today, my training plan called for a 90 minute bike ride.

It was a bit brisk but that chill in the air meant the trail was pretty quiet today.

I can almost see a tumbleweed rolling across the path.

The Gandy Dancer Trail is a former rail line trail made with crushed limestone and peat gravel that starts in St. Croix Falls, Wi and extends north to Siren, Wi where you can then pick up the northern portion and head even farther north into the Gordon/Superior area. One of my goals this summer is to bike the entire southern length (SCF to Siren) which is around 35 miles one way. The trail crosses through several small Wisconsin towns as it parallels WI-HWY 35 for most of the way.It’s a great trail and is kept in remarkable condition. With today’s cooler temperatures, the early morning rain we recieved didn’t make the ground too soft which was good.

I typically bike at least 4 miles in the St. Croix Falls city limits. Tooling around on a bike on proper blacktop invokes an exquisite freedom that I enjoy. When I get the chance to go back to Hayward this summer (once the Shelter in Place is lifted), all of my biking is done on paved trails and roads. I definitely feel a difference in a workout that is on gravel versus one that is on asphalt or concrete, and I wasn’t trying to go crazy hard today, so I kept a 13mph pace in the city and then tried to maintain a 11mph pace on the Gandy. Unfortunately, the wind is a bitter mistress and the cross wind I felt in the open areas and road crossings on the Gandy slowed my pace a little. Oh well.

Observant readers might see that I could’ve hit 15 miles proper if I would’ve biked for 3 more minutes. That’s very true. But after my long bike ride on Friday, I’m trying to be very aware of how my body feels and listen to it. And my body was telling me that it was time to turn it in. Sometimes good enough has to be enough.

Friday’s bike excursion was where I — in my hubris and overestimation of my abilities — tried to bike 31 miles to say that I biked a metric half-century (50k). I’m not saying that I can’t make 31 miles. However, I didn’t adequately prepare for that ride at all. I had a camelbak full of water (thank God) but I had a cross wind of 15-20 miles per hour the whole way. I made it to mile 11 before I decided to turn around and bike home. At about mile 18 I experienced a “bonk.” The scientific explanation of a “bonk” in biking speak is when you use up all of your glycogen stores and your body starts using up vital energy to try to keep powering you forward. Vital energy as in…from your brain. Symptoms of “bonking” include fatigue, dizziness/lightheadedness, confusion, insatiable hunger, and muscle weakness.

I bike alone. I always have my phone on me but after nearly 3 hours of riding with MapMyRide and Audible running in the background, my phone was nearly kaput. I could make one call to my husband to come and pick me up, but I figured that by the time he got to me, I could be back in St. Croix Falls and back at my car. I didn’t feel like I was going to die (well…maybe a little) but I needed to push on.

So I biked back the last four miles feeling like a puddle of nerves, hanger, emotion, and yuck. It was the worst experience I’ve had on a bike save for that one time in middle school when I crashed and fractured my arm.

So why did this happen? Improper nutrition (not eating enough) and not listening to my body. My body was telling me that she didn’t think it was possible to make it to Luck once I was 1/3 of the way in. I brushed that off as negative self-talk. Ain’t nobody got time for that sort of negativity! Well friends, there’s a difference between being lazy and being reckless and on Friday I was being a little reckless. Thankfully I made it home just fine. I guzzled a Gatorade that I had in my car (take it on the bike next time you dolt!). But I learned an important lesson.

Today’s ride was great! I felt good. I got in a good workout and I’m not wrecked afterward. I listened to my body. There’s a time and a place for muscle-burning, lung-searing, sweat-pouring workouts. Today’s workout was not it.

Tomorrow’s plan: a one hour hike along some scenic hilly trails and the NerdFitness bodyweight circuit.

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